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Manager authority should match responsibilities

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Tire dealers or service shop operators should give managers authority commensurate with their responsibilities.

A boss who doesn't anoint a manager as acting boss sends the wrong message to the staff.

Typically, the boss isn't physically present at the business all day, every day. Other times, he or she is present but not completely engaged in the business. The reason is that the boss often is consumed with one or more mentally demanding areas of running this business.

Some owners try to establish a structure that ultimately enables them to leave the business?possibly for extended periods?without worrying about it.

First, there are unavoidable personal and professional obligations that require the boss' attention from time to time.

Second, most bosses don't expect to be shackled to the business every waking hour.

I've spent my share of time in and around automotive service facilities. Working as a reporter, researcher and equipment salesman, I've observed many owners and managers. Too often, I've seen bosses assign managers responsibility for stellar productivity and profitability.

At the same time, they won't and don't yield any of their authority to those managers.

Simply put, the manager's word should be law when the boss is away?but sometimes it isn't and the entire crew knows it and runs with it.

Beyond a certain point, a capable and competent manager can't lead the staff or manage the business without the authority to make decisions. This is especially vital in the area of employee behavior, discipline and sanctions for misbehavior.

Likely, readers have seen the same kinds of workers I've encountered. These can be the very talented but relatively immature people who will try to get away with whatever they can?especially when the boss is away.

The types of infractions these workers commit may cover a wide range of ground when the boss leaves.

The person may attempt to bully or verbally abuse co-workers.

He or she may get grease on the seat of a car after neglecting to use a seat cover...or the vehicle's paint may have been marred because the tech didn't use a fender cover...or the worker may become chronically late, ignore shop safety rules or possibly mistreat shop equipment.

The atmosphere in the business is much healthier when the crew realizes that the manager won't hesitate to ?call out? infractions?whether or not the boss is present. It's vital that the manager have the authority to cite misbehavior immediately with a verbal or written reprimand?whatever's appropriate to the person and the situation.

Nothing makes a lasting impression like a manager who not only cites infractions but also punishes or penalizes the behavior promptly. This way, employees realize there are consequences for stupid, careless, unsafe or immature behavior.

This knowledge usually fosters awareness and respect, if not fear. To me, fear of reprimands and fear of consequences is a healthy thing in any business.

Let me repeat something important: Some workers get lax when the boss isn't around; others don't. However, good workers lose respect for owners and managers when they see that discipline isn't applied consistently and fairly. Ultimately, this loss of respect hurts productivity by poisoning the atmosphere in the workplace. Many workers simply won't give 100 percent when they've lost respect for owners and managers.

Workers don't remain loyal when they don't know what to expect from their bosses day in, day out. But they tend to be much more loyal and productive when they know everyone's held accountable for their actions day in, day out?no unpleasant surprises.

Managers have enormous responsibilities. Consequently, owners should be comfortable giving them the captain's authority. When an owner isn't comfortable yielding authority to a manager, there usually are deeper problems present.

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TB Reader Poll

Previous | Published February 22, 2019

What kind of investments do you plan to make this year?

Adding more employees.
21% (17 votes)
Upgrading software/hardware.
16% (13 votes)
Upgrading our equipment and/or facilities.
37% (30 votes)
Training for employees.
27% (22 votes)
Total votes: 82
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